The Medium Is the Massage Paperback – Aug 1 2001
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The medium used to be the message. But in the "collide-oscopic" barrage of image and text that resulted from Marshall McLuhan's 1967 collaboration with graphic designer Quentin Fiore, the medium becomes the massage. The basic premise of this playful popularization of McLuhan's theories of the electronic revolution will be familiar to readers of his other works: "Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments." But more than McLuhan's other work, The Medium Is the Massage also reflects the tumultuous decade in which it was produced, the 60s. It was a time when existentialism, the theatrr of the absurd, "happenings," and Eastern religions were all the rage in academic circles. Massage adds to that mix traces of utopianism ("We have now become aware of the possibility of arranging the entire human environment as a work of art"; a hint of radicalism (of electronic circuitry McLuhan says: "Its message is Total Change, ending psychic, social, economic, and political parochialism. The old civic, state, and national groupings have become unworkable."); and a bracing pinch of paranoia ("Electrical information devices for universal, tyrannical womb-to-tomb surveillance" have brought us "to a point where remedial control, born out of knowledge of media and their total effects on all of us, must be exerted."). True to its observation that "information pours upon us, instantaneously and continuously," McLuhan and Fiore shower us with photographs, cartoons, newspaper headlines, backwards and upside-down writing, and other graphical innovations. The book is also packed with quotations from a motley collection of savants (in addition to McLuhan himself, of course): Alfred North Whitehead, James Joyce, Lao Tsu, John Dewey, John Cage, and Bob Dylan. The book's design and content aptly, and palpably, demonstrate the insights that have caused many highly stimulated readers to pronounce McLuhan a visionary, a veritable "oracle of the electronic age." --Russell Prather --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
From the "I can't believe this went out of print" file come two of McLuhan's signature titles. Though a lot of this may seem like freaky rantings from the Sixties (LJ 6/1/67 and LJ 11/1/68, respectively), many of McLuhan's observations on technology, violence, etc., still ring true.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Forty-five years later, I can see how the book's format and the message within presaged the effects of worldwide media and the publishing industry:
"The Medium is the Massage" reveals how the medium, or process, of our time--electric technology--is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of your personal life. How it is forcing you to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought and every institution you formerly took for granted."
The book's appearance, that of mixing visuals and text, reminded me of later novels such as Douglas Coupland's Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture and Dennis Rodman's memoirs Bad As I Wanna Be and Walk on the Wild Side, all of which were written for readers with ever declining attention spans.
After Arab Spring, I could only read the following remark with mouth agape:
"Youth instinctively understands the present environment--the electric drama. It lives mythically and in depth. This is the reason for the great alienation between generations. Wars, revolutions, civil uprisings are interfaces within the new environments created by electric informational media."
Twitter and Facebook are these new environments which affect us all, even those like myself who adamantly remain selectively disconnected. I couldn't come to this conclusion fast enough, for McLuhan stated later:
"The instantaneous world of electric informational media involves all of us, all at once. No detachment or frame is possible."
Technological advances scare some of us, and I count myself among the scaredy-cats. My reaction to dealing with the future? McLuhan must be reading my mind:
"The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. Suburbia lives imaginatively in Bonanza-land."
For an introduction into McLuhan's media studies, The Medium is the Massage is 160 pages of wondrous futurisms. Some of the text seems rather Joycean in structure; I would read passages over and over and the only reason I did not finish this book in one day was that I dwelt on this complex and ungrammatical phraseology. The global village had certainly come to town and McLuhan was its first mayor.
But where's the album? Hello, all you who hold intellectual copyrights on his stuff! Please re-issue this in more modern mediums.
I have a copy of his LP from the 1960s and it is fascinating and remarkable and also ahead of its time. The sampling and meandering drifting beats found in techno/electronica music today hearkens back to this LP. When is it going to be re-issued? The world is waiting and is truly missing out!
The Book ripped!
I rate 0 because it is cheap glue that attaches the pages, but content is 5/5!
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